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Litchfield and Kakadoodle-do

Darwin, Australia


Returning to Australia was both amazing and shocking. We walked out of the airport to a perfect tropical temperature, no sweltering heat but a great breeze and pleasing aroma. Plus, not one person was in our face trying to sell us a ride or lodging or anything else for that matter. The ease with which we navigated indicated that we had arrived back into a more established, richer culture. The shock came when we were confronted with how much one has to pay for this type of culture. Australia is expensive!

The Economist’s Big Mac Index recently showed that Australia’s currency is about right on the mark—which is entirely impossible. I tend to agree more with a recent McKinsey report stating that the Australian dollar is about 20% overvalued. Even still, I’m not sure this goes far enough . . . The Carl Index (in which the world will soon be placing its trust) indicates that the Australia dollar may be overvalued by as much as 70% compared with the US dollar! As an example, we paid $130 for our first full night of lodging at a place that would go for maybe $60 in the US (in an expensive, more-demand-than-supply type US city). The amount of money we spent on this one room equated to what we spent for a similar style room in Railay Beach for 8 days! (I know this isn’t exactly an equal comparison, but shocking nonetheless). Long story short, I spent as much during our last week in Australia as I did traveling for a month in SE Asia. Australia is expensive!

Ok, with that out of my system, I can now explain how cool the Darwin area is. Darwin itself is an inviting little town that serves well its position as a jump-off point to local National Parks, Kakadu and Litchfield. We spent 2.5 days in Kakadu and 1.5 in Litchfield—both great places. We were warned that Kakadu is a huge park that requires long drives between notable sites and that in August it would be extremely busy because of local holidays. We found the first warning to be right on, but not so much the second. Because of the long drives, we opted to rent a campervan from Wicked Campers, drive at our own pace and stay where we like in lieu of paying for a tour from Darwin. In the end, we were extremely happy with our decision. We saw all the major attractions at Kakadu, including aboriginal paintings, amazing vistas, crocodiles, lots of cool birds, amazing forests and waterfalls with beautiful pools. Theses attractions were a fair bit away from each other and each beckoned for different amounts of time, so it was pleasant to have our own transportation and go at our own pace. Although I expected a Yosemite level of “busy”, including thousands of visitors at each site, we only found a few dozen each place we visited—not bad at all.

From Kakadu, we headed to Litchfield National Park. Along the way we stopped at Robin Falls and climbed for an afternoon. We jumped on half-a-dozen slab-like lead climbs on shoddy rock and had a blast! From there we drove into Litchfield where we found a lot more of the same that we found at Kakadu, except I think the waterfalls and pools were more magnificent (for starters you could swim in them without fear of crocs) and the attractions were much, much, much closer to one another, also convenient. Also, there is a part of the park called the Lost City that contains hundreds of sandstone boulders that makes for great bouldering (it was a lot of fun watching Joc send The Dusty Mutt Traverse, a V1 boulder problem we created).

Darwin and the local parks is a must-see for anyone going to Australia—great, unique scenery and culture.




permalink written by  GoBlue on August 4, 2007 from Darwin, Australia
from the travel blog: Carl's Circuit
tagged Darwin, Kakadu, Litchfield and Crocodiles

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